An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Traveling with Kids

With summer here (my boys get out this Friday) and a vacation just around the corner (we leave this Friday for the beach) I wanted to share two great ideas for involving your children during a family vacation:

The Scavenger Hunt

Two years ago my husband and I took our boys on their first trip to Italy. Because I wanted this trip to be both memorable and educational, I prepared a scavenger hunt highlighting some of the things I knew we would be seeing. The night before the trip I gave them each a list of 25 items to look for and a disposable camera. Some of the items on the list were obvious: someone eating a gelato; a tower that leans; a square with a fountain in the middle; a sign written in Italian; a vespa. Some weren't so obvious: a lion carved in stone (lion: symbol of Venice and found everywhere in that city); a love letter to Juliet (the wall near Juliet's balcony is plastered with love letters asking for advice).

They loved the scavenger hunt and took it very seriously. Once we returned home they put their list and their photos in a small album . . . a wonderful memento of our trip.

Postcard Journals

On this same family trip, I wanted the boys to record in some way what they were seeing and learning. I knew, however, that a traditional journal was just not the way to go. Instead, the boys sent postcards . . . to themselves!! After a day spent sightseeing the boys would select a postcard and write some highlights of the day. A postcard was perfect because they had a picture of what they saw, and the limited space on the back kept their journaling down to a few sentences.

The best part was that a few days after returning home the postcards started arriving, and the boys would get so excited to receive mail. Their postcards were also incredibly funny:

Dear Me: This postcard shows the day when we went to Collodi . . . a park all about Pinocchio. When I saw the spitting whale, monstro, my eyeballs were popping out of my ears.

Dear Wonderful Self: I went to Poppi and saw Poppi castle. I saw everything from a model of a medieval guy on a battlefield with his guts spilling out, to a real skeleton in the dungeon. This was awesome!

Dear Me: I went to Cortona today. It was so high on the mountain my ears had trouble getting used to the altitude. We sat on the steps pictured on the postcard and ate a panino. The pigeons practically attacked us when I threw a chip on the step.

Dear Me: Today we went to La Verna, a Franciscan monastery. We saw the real cloak that St. Francis wore. My favorite was, of course, the gift shop!! (My middle son mentions a gift shop in every. single. postcard.)

Dear Cool Kid (aka me): In Verona I saw a Colosseum and the Piazza Bra - a bra that looks like a pizza. Not really. Anyway I saw Juliet's balcony with all the love letters attached to the wall. By the way, the Piazza Bra is a square named Bra.

Well, I hope this gives you some ideas for a memorable family vacation. Happy summer and safe travels to you!


SuburbanCorrespondent said...

I love these ideas!

Laura said...

Kids are can always rely on that.
This post card idea is great- not too daunting at all and it's fun!

E said...

The postcard idea is great. We always did the scavenger hunt, but the post cards have many pleasures then and later.
Have fun at the beach. I am dying for ours...a few more weeks yet

Soutenus said...

These are fabulous ideas....actualy when I opened up the com box I was all set to type, "I love these ideas." Unfortunately, suburbancorrespondent beat me to that wording! LOL
Seriously though, I am very excited to use these ideas this summer. Our big travel plans are to go visit Grandmom -- 4 hours away -- but this will put a really fun spin on the trip!

Have fun at the beach.

:o) mg said...

Yeah, but don't you ever long for the whiney sound of kid voices saying "weee're bored"?
Seriously, those are fabulous ideas. Thanks for passing them along.
And if I don't see you before you go, have a GREAT trip! xoxo

Cath said...

Wonderful ideas! We have a few small weekend trips coming up and I think these will help with those.

Karen said...

The scavenger hunt is awesome! My kids would love, love, love that idea. Thanks for sharing these.

Lisa said...

Great ideas! I'm not sure we'll get a chance to use them this summer, but they're in my idea file now! Have a wonderful, fun day at the beach! Soak up some sun and waves for us!

triciaj said...

I love the scavenger hunt and postcard ideas. My husband and 2 boys will be traveling to Gulf Shores in July. My youngest can not write but he is very observant and with a little help could easily operate a camera.

Wendy said...

Bia - What a fantastic idea! I can't wait to implement this (now I just need a really great destination! Ha!) I could do the scavenger hunt one at camp, though!